HandsOn NWNC

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Greetings from the Summer Intern! July 7, 2016

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Hi everyone! My name is Caroline and I am the HandsOn intern for the summer. I was placed here through the WFU Pro Humanitate Institute’s Summer Non-Profit Immersion program. As part of the program, I live with the 13 member cohort, visit the sites of the other interns, and discuss and analyze the many facets of the non-profit sector.

My first month at HandsOn consisted of contacting and getting to know the various non-profits in the area. I have been familiarizing myself with the daily grind of working in a non-profit and seeing how organizations can work together to serve the community. It has been eye-opening to gain multiple perspectives from collaborating and assisting diverse non-profits and groups. Working with the staff at HandsOn has also shown me the countless different jobs that need to be done at a non-profit and the value of teamwork and diligence. I have so appreciated their openness and support since I have started at HandsOn!

While I work Monday through Thursday at HandsOn, every Friday the cohort joins up to visit one or two of the other internships. So far, we have had the privilege to visit and learn about Family Services of Davidson County, Habitat for Humanity, Samaritan Ministries, AIDS Care Services, Experiment in Self-Reliance, and Hospice and Palliative Care. We even had the chance to have all the interns here at HandsOn! Every single visit has been enlightening and the whole cohort has appreciated the time and effort the organizations put into opening up their sites to us. Thanks so much everyone! I still have one month left, but it has been amazing to learn from HandsOn, the non-profits in Winston-Salem, and the Pro Humanitate Institute.


Succession–we can’t ignore it anymore October 2, 2013

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Succession–we can’t ignore it anymore

In national surveys, nearly 80% of current nonprofit EDs say that they are planning on leaving their posts within the next 5 years. This year alone, 39 EDs have transitioned in Charlotte. The wave is coming, and we can’t ignore it anymore. While HandsOn has created succession planning workshops for local nonprofits in the past, what can do moving forward? Is there a chance for some collective action on the community level? Or mechanisms or resources that would make succession planning easier and smoother for nonprofits individually? This article discusses what the NC Center for Nonprofits is doing on a statewide level, but what can we do here in Forsyth County? 

Look for more from us on this topic in the next few months. Forsyth County won’t be immune from this trend, and the time to act is *before* those transitions start happening in bigger clusters. (Right now, I think we’re seeing some of the leading edge of the tidal wave….) In the meantime, if your organization is facing a leadership transition, please let us know. Comment here, or give us a call. How can we help you? What issues are you most worried about going into leadership transition?


The benefits of corporate volunteerism: Belk and BB&T May 23, 2013

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For the past month, Kathy and I have been furiously at work managing 7 volunteer projects as part of Belk’s 125 Days of Service. To celebrate its 125th anniversary as the nation’s largest, family-owned department store, Belk made a corporate commitment to moblize volunteers from each of their stores across their 16-state footprint, partnering with local HandsOn affiliates to create and manage service projects in nearby Title I schools. We were honored to be able to serve as a “service sherpa” between local Belk stores and schools in seven of our local communities: Lexington, Mt. Airy, Statesville, Mooresville, Wilkesboro, Elkin, and, our biggest, right here in Winston-Salem.

At each of these sites, employees spent 2-4 hours assembling picnic tables, building book shelves, and painting canvases for use in the schools. At the larger sites, even more projects were tackled. In every case, the school has been touched by the generosity, and the Belk manager has made a commitment to try and nurture the relationship long-term. The employees had fun, and the schools were excited by the possibilities presented by the fruits of the volunteers’ labors–each have seemed especially excited by different aspects of the project, which is great! It’s been a very positive experience for us, and has really gotten us thinking about the benefits of corporate volunteerism and what we could do locally to help present engagement opportunities to local companies.

But in the midst of all of this engagement work–after all, volunteer engagement is what we do–we were able to be the direct beneficiaries of corporate volunteerism for the first time. For the past four years, we have helped mobilized teams of BB&T volunteers as part of their Project Lighthouse initiative. We send out Request for Projects to our network, and present a huge slate of options to local BB&T contacts. Thousands of volunteers are engaged in service through Project Lighthouse each year, and we have heard the stories that our local nonprofit partners have shared of their work. Yet, we have never submitted a project ourselves. This year, our main BB&T contact urged us to put a project for ourselves on the list….and so we did. The results, which we are benefiting from this morning, almost had us in tears yesterday. But first a little history….

Here at HandsOn, we do a lot of work out and about in the community, with very few people. When we are in our offices, two, three or even four of us share a small, two-room space on the second floor of the Winston-Salem Red Cross building (for which we are incredibly grateful.) We’re often in and out–dumping off supplies and meeting materials, and snatching up what we need for the next project or meeting or training. We don’t have the luxury of admin staff, and practically every piece of furniture we had was passed down from the Red Cross. For the past five years, we’ve been very good at “making do,” making our offices work for us as best we can. So, we decided to ask these BB&T volunteers to “refresh” our office space. 

The team spent four hours yesterday afternoon transforming our space. Gone are the piles of old meeting notes and outdated Business Journals! Gone is the rickety computer desk that we used for our printer and office supplies–no more falling binder clips to land between your toes! Window treatments! New plants! And–most importantly–FIVE new pieces of office furniture order to meet our space and requirements. When we saw the re-done space for the first time yesterday, it was like the “reveal” on Trading Spaces. I think Kathy and I were both almost in tears. We’re already feeling more productive in the “new” space. (How can you tell? I have the time to write a blog post!)

It was certainly a different (and transformative) experience to be on this side of the corporate volunteerism equation. And we loved it! The best part–it was clear that the BB&T employees loved doing it, too. How rare, it was said, for them to be able to accomplish something as part of their “job” that you could document in a before and after picture. (Our team’s leader, Angela Hill, is a “Sourcing Event Analyst” in the “Enterprise Spend Management,” and if you know what that means, you are waaaaay smarter than me.) They had fun potting plants, making and hanging curtains, drawing up new plans for the space, hanging pictures, and cleaning out cobwebs. They came together as a team. And they made the work of this one little nonprofit infinitely better in the space of a single afternoon.

Many are jaded by stories of corporate volunteerism. Don’t be. These projects are sowing seeds, and may yet yield significant relationship fruits. The process is positive–for all involved.


Belk volunteers hard at work in Wilkesboro!

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Belk volunteers hard at work in Wilkesboro!


What are your thoughts about “Giving Tuesday?” November 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — HandsOn Northwest North Carolina @ 2:41 pm

In the aftermath of the holiday weekend, the rush of “Black Friday” (which I successfully avoided) and in the midst of “Cyber Monday,” (I did do some shopping online last night,) I heard this story on NPR on my way into work this morning about the designation this year of “Giving Tuesday” tomorrow.

The idea is that is will serve as the official “kick-off” to the charitable giving season, which does usually start around Thanksgiving. I’ve got mixed thoughts. HandsOn NWNC would welcome your gift or encourage you to volunteer and we are certainly thankful for any national initiative that encourages people to give back to their communities. However, there is already such an emphasis at giving, especially volunteering, around the holidays. When we get calls from folks wanting to volunteer on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day, when the few opportunities that exist are usually already filled, we encourage folks to celebrate “Thanksgiving/Christmas in July,” when often the needs are greater: kids are out of school (and missing that hot school lunch,) many volunteers are on vacation, and blood supplies are low because donors are also on vacation. Do we need  more encouragement to give at a time when people tend to already be giving?

Blackbaud, the maker of Raiser’s Edge fundraising software, was interviewed for the NPR story, and they will be tracking the results of  Giving Tuesday to see if it makes a measurable impact on giving or volunteering levels. I’ll be interested to see what the data shows. As I said, if it makes a significant bump, especially in cash donations for strapped nonprofits, that would be fantastic. I wonder what the results will be for longer-term volunteer engagement.

We’re interested in hearing your thoughts. I’m working on the December newsletter this week, and may include a story about this. And, as I said, please help add to the data by giving or volunteering today! 😀





Hey everyone! How are YOU spending 9/11? August 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — HandsOn Northwest North Carolina @ 2:41 pm

Hey everyone! How are YOU spending 9/11? Why don’t you spend it with us! Great volunteer opportunities are up on our website- http://www.handsonnwnc.org. Come by and check them out. Just click on Volunteer Now, and enter 9/11 in the search bar for a complete list of opportunities!


Are you looking to work with HandsOn NWN June 7, 2012

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Are you looking to work with HandsOn NWNC? New VISTA position will be available to start in August! Call or email Morgan Owen for details! morganowen@handsonnwnc.org or 724-2866.